Remember Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show singing that song? He, in his wig, bustier and boots, is the image that comes to mind when I think about TIME — that annoying dimension that trips me up and causes me to tear out my hair. Most of all when I’m writing!
I personally believe (and please don’t laugh) that we humans actually bend time and space, like those creatures in Dune, even when we’re not aware we’re doing it. Haven’t you noticed there are times when TIME lags, and other times, when TIME speeds up? I like to think I can warp it, like when I’m running late for an appointment, I can rush like a maniac, and mentally crunch and slow TIME itself. I used to have a watch with a melting Dali-like face. I liked it a lot because that’s exactly how I perceive TIME.
I am one of those people who really struggles to be on time. For some, it’s automatic, they start paying attention hours before they’re supposed to be somewhere. I do too, but I never seem to get it right. It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s just a fact. And it’s not that I want to make my friends/doctors/dentists wait for me. Not at all, I like them very much, but for whatever reason, my natural tendency is to leave for a place when I should be arriving. I don’t like it. I fight it – all the TIME!
I so look forward to the invention of the teleportation machine. How wonderful it will be when we can pop into a little booth a few seconds before we’re supposed to arrive and voilà, our atoms and molecules are rearranged in another spot. Perfect! That should solve my problem . . . maybe. If you’re one of those people who is never late, always on time, would never dream of not allowing enough TIME to arrive somewhere, you’re thinking, what an idiot she must be. All she has to do is look at a damn clock. It couldn’t be easier. I wish it were that simple.
Did you know that Albert Einstein was working on time travel before his death? He had some very interesting theories about TIME. One was his Swiss cheese thought model. He theorized that TIME is like the hole inside a hunk of Swiss cheese. We perceive TIME in a linear fashion as we cut slices through the cheese and the hole expands, but TIME was there inside the cheese all the time. We just can’t perceive it because we’re programmed to view it as a linear reality. Seven days ago, I cut my hair and tomorrow I’ll feed the cat. See?
And what about those times when TIME bends upon itself. When an old memory arises as fresh and alive as the day it happened, and brings colors and words and smells back to us, more vividly than a recent event?
Hang with me here. There’s a point to my ramblings.
I’ve been reminded of my trouble with TIME in several areas of life, but nowhere more forcefully than when plotting a story. I get lost – a lot! But how can I be expected to keep track of that invisible nothingness inside the Swiss cheese as I mentally flit through a fictional universe? How can I be expected to remember my character just climbed out of bed two chapters ago and now she’s creeping through the woods at night? Uh oh. How did that happen? I got lost again. And I can foresee my editor’s comment box: “DIDN’T SHE JUST WAKE UP? HOW CAN IT BE MIDNIGHT SO SOON? WHAT HAPPENED?” I cringe, knowing my editor’s right. I goofed. Then there are the questions like, “DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN ON SUNDAY? WOULD THE OFFICE BE OPEN ON A SUNDAY?” Uh oh, goofed again!
So now, in an effort not to embarrass myself, I am very diligent. I make charts and outlines to keep focused in this linear physical reality, even though my mind is wandering through a fictional town. It’s day three of my story and it’s ten o’clock in the morning and so on. And I have to discipline myself to keep my chart up because I know if I don’t I’ll be in big trouble. And I’ll have to answer (make excuses for) those bloopers to my editor again.
Now if only my protagonist would do the same and not go creeping through the woods two chapters after she got out of bed. Einstein isn’t around to help me out anymore. Just where did I put that Dali melting face watch? I’ll have to find it. Not sure I’m enjoying this linear physical reality right now.